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Third Base Deep Sleepers for 2020

Third base is arguably the deepest position in fantasy baseball, making the position ripe for late-round gems and sleepers. The considerable depth at the 3B position allows fantasy owners to sit back and wait rather than drafting one in earlier rounds.

Indeed, the 25 third basemen drafted within the first 200 picks by ADP are the most of any position group (outside of outfielders and starting pitchers), and there is still plenty of values to be found well after pick 200. 

For this article, I’ve considered some deep sleepers as third baseman drafted outside of the first 25 by ADP. With that in mind, here are five third base options who could provide value well above ADP in the later rounds.

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Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays (28th 3B; 245 ADP)

Injuries held Diaz to just 79 games last season, but the 28-year-old displayed a strong plate approach, solid contact skills, and impressive power. Diaz’s 23.8% o-swing rate and 68.2% z-swing rate were both significantly better than average, and combined with his 84% z-contact rate, he should keep his strikeout rate down around 20%. 

In terms of contact quality, Diaz posted a strong .397 xwOBA on contact last year, supported by an impressive 91.7 mph average exit velocity and a 44.8% hard-hit rate. Diaz also improved his launch angle last season, increasing his average launch angle from 4.4 to 5.7 degrees, as his barrel rate rose to a career-best 10.4%.

As long as he can stay healthy, an OPS around .900 with better than average strikeout and walk rates isn’t out of the question. Of all third baseman drafted with an ADP after 200, Diaz has the best chance to be a top-15 third baseman in 2020, making him an ideal sleeper pick.

 

Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants (40th 3B; 511 ADP)

Longoria isn’t the MVP candidate that he once was, but he doesn’t have to be at his 511 ADP. Last season, Longoria posted a .254/.325/.437 slash line that appears to be more than replicable in 2020. With a 30.2% chase rate and a 10.9% swinging-strike rate in 2019, Longoria’s solid plate approach and contact skills kept his strikeout rate down to a manageable 22% and his walk rate near the league average at 8.5%. Additionally, Longoria’s contact quality was strong last season with an 89.7 mph average exit velocity, a 40.8% hard-hit rate, and a 27.2% line drive rate. 

As a result of Longoria’s strong contact quality and solid contact skills, the third baseman posted a .274 xBA and a .498 xSLG, both of which indicate that he suffered from a little bad luck. Even at 34 years old, Longoria is still an above-average hitter who should post an OPS between .700 and .800 with strikeout and walk rates around the league average marks. That level of production makes Longoria an excellent option at his current ADP.

 

Hanser Alberto, Baltimore Orioles (36th 3B; 429 ADP)

A swing-and-hit style batter, Alberto owned the best strikeout rate in baseball last season despite his near league-worst 44.7% chase rate. Alberto is an elite contact hitter with a 76.5% o-contact rate and a 93.7% z-contact rate, both of which ranked among the top-five in baseball last season. 

Power is an issue for Alberto, as he posted an 82.8 mph average exit velocity and an 18.3% hard-hit rate last season. Alberto had never posted an average exit velocity above 80 mph before, though, so he may be making an effort to add power. Alberto is in line for some strikeout regression based on his 7.9% swinging-strike rate, but another small power bump would make an OPS around .775 with a strikeout rate around 15% a reasonable possibility. At his 429 ADP, that makes Alberto a sleeper pick worth considering.

 

Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates (44th 3B; 591 ADP)

Moran has been solid for the Pirates after coming over as a part of the package for Gerrit Cole in January 2018, and the 27-year-old posted a solid .751 OPS last season. Moran’s 77.2% contact rate and 7.4% barrel rate helped him post a decent but fairly underwhelming .316 xwOBA last year, making his 2019 numbers a rough estimate for Moran’s floor in 2020.

Plate discipline was an issue for Moran in 2019, though, and that flaw gives him plenty of room for upside in 2020. After chasing pitches outside of the strike zone at a 26.6% rate in ’18, Moran’s chase rate jumped up to 35.5% last season while his z-swing rate stayed constant. Moran particularly struggled with breaking balls, chasing the pitches at a career-worst 44.3% rate. Pitchers attacked Moran accordingly, throwing breaking pitches outside of the strike zone at a 62.7% rate.

If Moran can get his chase rate back down towards 30%, then an OPS near or above .800 is a reasonable possibility. Moran may eventually be usurped by prospect Ke’ Bryan Hayes at some point this season, but Moran’s expected production makes him a solid sleeper pick at his 591 ADP.

 

Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies (41st 3B; 553 ADP)

If you’re looking for upside at third base this deep in drafts, Bohm is someone to strongly consider. A consensus Top 50 prospect, Bohm boasts strong contact skills and impressive power, giving him a legitimate shot at the National League Rookie of the Year Award, depending on playing time.

Over the course of his 165-game Minor League career, Bohm owns a solid .293/.368/.474 slash line with a strong 13.7% strikeout rate. Bohm received a Spring Training invite this year and didn’t disappoint, hitting .409 with just two strikeouts (25 PA) and a .849 OPS.

Bohm probably won’t start the season on the Phillies’ Major League roster, but an OPS around .800 with a strikeout rate around 20% in the Majors is a reasonable, if not somewhat optimistic expectation after he gets called up. There are some playing time and experience risks with Bohm, but few players offer as much upside this late in drafts.

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